Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gluten Free little dude

Not the best picture-but the most current- Look at those lovely eyes!
#2 is my little man with a sensory processing disorder. When #2 was 5 years old, and started kindergarten, he could read, but he could not write. When he had to do things that required fine motor skills, he had a melt down. Melt downs include screaming, hitting, stomping, laying on the floor, crying, and a general sense of being completely out of control of his own body. I know that #2 has a brilliant mind. He thinks so deeply. He understands things that lots of children his age don't. He is a typically sweet, kind, loving, tenderhearted child. This is why the meltdowns were so confusing to me.
I worked for about 6 months, trying to figure out how to help my boy. I wanted to be able to understand why he did what he did. I wanted to help him to become strong enough to handle hard things. I wanted him to be able to function in society.
I finally ended up at an occupational therapy center. They asked me questions that helped me describe #2's challenges perfectly. They asked about fine motor skills, large motor skills, eating, dressing, transitions, social interactions, smells, sounds, lighting etc. After filling out the survey, I was sure I was in the right place.
With in a month of intensive therapy, #2 was able to write. By the second month, he was able to wear more than sweats and t-shirts to school. Month 3 and 4 were devoted to sleeping, eating, large motor skills and transitions. During month 5 and 6 we worked on social interactions. During months 5 and 6 we were still having problems with screaming and meltdowns. Because it wasn't happening at therapy, the therapist couldn't really understand what I was talking about.
A friend of mine's oldest son was flagged as autistic around that time. As we started talking about different ways that it presented, I was reminded of my little guy. I told her all about therapy and how much it had helped us. She said she wanted to try a gluten/casein free diet first. After a few weeks, she couldn't believe the difference. About the same time- I went to a dietician, who recommended I go on a gluten free diet- to try and relieve some of the stomach problems I had been having for years. After a few weeks of me being gluten free, I decided to have #2 go gluten free as well.
Within 2 weeks the number of meltdowns #2 had went from 20 or 30 a day to 1 or 2. Homework time went from 1 page in 2 hours with constant re-direction, to him independently doing a weeks worth of homework in 5 minutes. That month the therapist came to me and said, "Well it looks to me like we have met all of our goals. #2 seems to be functioning perfectly. Do you have any more concerns?" I didn't. We ended therapy. He was happier. We were all happier.
He stayed away from gluten for most of the summer. In August he started to eat more gluten. But, we didn't see a noticeable difference, except for a stomach ache the first couple day- and some explosive bowel movements. He had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich daily and weekly chocolate chip cookies.
In October we started to notice an increase in meltdowns. We also noticed a decreased ability to follow instructions. Finished homework was coming home- because it hadn't been turned in. He lost his coat several times and he even lost his shoes once (at school). The last part of November was like living with a Zombie. We would say, "Please get your shoes on." He would just look at us. Then we would physically put his shoes one, his coat on, and take him by the hand to the car. Over the last couple days, the only time we have seen #2 respond has been to scream and have meltdowns. Needless to say, we are putting him back on a gluten free diet.
I am constantly amazed how much his disorder is affected by his diet. I haven't read enough to understand exactly why a gluten free diet works. I just know it does. In fact, this morning #2 had a bowl of gluten free cereal for breakfast. After breakfast, I saw his eyes look at me for the first time in 2 weeks. He came over, sat on my lap and put his arms around my neck. He kissed my cheek and said "I love this house".
Here goes our first Gluten free Christmas, wish me luck!

1 comment:

Meg said...

When you go to research check out "leaky gut" syndrome. It is very common and I believe this is what Michael has. He reacts to milk negatively with in the hour of taking it in. Gluten is much more subtle and it is the build up over time that is the issue. The build up creates the leaky gut. That is why when you try to add gluten back in you don't notice a change right away, it takes the build up. Good Luck! It is tough.